IAC calls for restoration of democracy and cultural freedom in Fiji
The Indian Arrival Committee (IAC) is calling for the restoration of democracy and cultural freedom in Fiji.
The IAC statement comes as the Fijian Prime Minister, Frank E, Bainimarama, and a delegation from the Pacific island state are attending the 11th Special ACP Ministerial Conference on Sugar here in Guyana.
In welcoming the delegates, the IAC said it would be remiss if it did not mention the “undesirable situation” which currently exists in Fiji.
“A series of military coups from 1987 has led to the marginalisation of that country’s ethnic Indian population,” the IAC stated.
In 1987, a coup by indigenous Fijians overthrew the elected Indian coalition government, the IAC noted, adding that in another coup in 2000, the country’s first elected ethnic Indian Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, his Cabinet and several Members of Parliament were held hostage for several weeks.
Fiji’s Military Chief, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, seized power in a December 2006 coup, the IAC said, noting that he became interim Prime Minister in January 2007.
“Since seizing power, Commodore Bainimarama promised to restore democracy following constitutional reform but has excluded political opponents, including ethnic Indians from related discussions,” the IAC stated.
According to the IAC, a move by Fiji’s Appeal Court in April 2009 to declare the military government illegal prompted President, Ratu Josefa Ilollo, an indigenous Fijian, to suspend the constitution and reappoint Commodore Bainimarama as interim Prime Minister for a further five years.
Following the 2006 coup, Mr. Ilollo lost his executive powers to Commodore Bainimarama who dissolved Parliament and declared a state of emergency, the IAC pointed out.
Commodore Bainimarama reinstated Mr. Ilollo as President in January 2007.
It should be noted that Mr. Ilollo had endorsed the December 2006 coup, the IAC stated.
In the light of these developments, the IAC called for the immediate restoration of democracy through free and fair elections in Fiji and for Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, to fulfil his promise.
The IAC said it sees the situation in Fiji as a form of oppression of the ethnic Indian population and which has led to the suppression of their cultural freedom.
“Further, the IAC takes this opportunity to encourage Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, during his stay in Guyana to learn from the inclusiveness of Guyanese politics and from the harmonious cohabitation of its diverse ethnicity.”